July 19, 2022

Rep. Lee Votes to Protect Marriage Equality Amid Right-Wing Threats

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In response to continued right-wing threats to Americans’ personal liberties, Congresswoman Barbara Lee today voted to enshrine marriageequality into federal law. The Respect for Marriage Act will officially repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a defunct and discriminatory statute excluding same-sex couples from marriage under federal law. This legislation will also codify new protections ensuring that no married couple can be denied protections and benefits under federal law based on sex, race, ethnicity or national origin. 

“Today, I proudly voted to protect marriage equality in California and across the country,” said Rep. Lee. “With its decision overturning Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court’s Republican-appointed supermajority tossed out nearly 50 years of legal precedent and severely weakened the Constitutional right to privacy. Now, right-wing extremists are leading a cruel assault on even more of Californians’ most cherished and hard-won freedoms – including the right to marry the person they love. The bipartisan, bicameral Respect for Marriage Act will enshrine marriageequality into federal law and prohibit state officials from discriminating against same-sex and interracial couples.”

Following the Supreme Court’s heart-wrenching decision overturning Roe v. Wade, right-wing extremists have set their sights on other rulings upholding basic rights and freedoms. In his concurring opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas explicitly called for the Court to consider overturning other landmark rulings, including the Obergefell v. Hodges decision recognizing the Constitutional right to marriage equality.  

The Respect for Marriage Act will take several steps to combat this assault on Americans’ freedoms:

  • Enshrining Marriage Equality Into Federal Law: This legislation will require the federal government to fully recognize any marriage considered valid in the state where it was performed – providing same-sex and interracial couples additional certainty that they will continue to receive equal treatment under federal law.
  • Repealing the Defense of Marriage Act: While the Supreme Court has effectively voided the Defense of Marriage Act, this unconstitutional and discriminatory federal law still remains on the books. The Respect for MarriageAct would repeal this statute once and for all.
  • Barring Discrimination By State Officials: This legislation prohibits state officials from denying recognition of an out-of-state marriage on the basis of sex, race, ethnicity or national origin.

“This legislation is a key step forward in House Democrats’ fight against the right-wing assault on freedom,” continued Rep. Lee. “Last week, our Majority advanced two landmark bills defending reproductive health freedoms – and later this week, we will vote on legislation upholding Americans’ basic right to access contraception. While Republicans seek to punish and control our most personal decisions, Democrats remain fully committed to preserving the rights and dignities of every person, everywhere.”

The Respect for Marriage Act is strongly supported by leading advocacy organizations, including the ACLU, Center for American Progress, Equality Federation, Family Equality, Freedom for All Americans, GLAD, Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal, National Black Justice Coalition, National Center for Lesbian Rights, National Women’s Law Center and PFLAG.

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Congresswoman Lee is a member of the House Appropriations Committee and Chair of the Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations. She serves as Co-Chair of the Steering & Policy Committee, former Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, Chair Emeritus of the Progressive Caucus, Co-Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Health Task Force, and Co-Chair of the Pro-Choice Caucus. She also serves as Chair of the Majority Leader’s Task Force on Poverty and Opportunity. As a member of the House Democratic Leadership, she is the highest ranking Black woman in the U.S. Congress.